Whatever the Super Bowl represents to die hard football fans, it also is one of the largest gatherings of American business people each year. In addition to being a schmooze fest in a warm weather location, I feel it is a celebration of “the best” that can be inspiring to small business owners as well.
I haven’t been to a football game since Al Davis’ Raiders left Los Angeles to return to Oakland, which lets you know that on a scale of 10, my fan level is at about 4. When the raiders were the local LA team, I was attracted to their positioning slogan which was “commitment to excellence.” I don’t know when they last lived up to the phrase, but I liked it and think that my connection to any sport played at the highest level is really about an interest in excellence.
The Super Bowl is much more than just a football game that determines the world champion in a bruising sport. It is a great business exercise which attracts other businesses and provides opportunities for doing business even while shouting, eating, and perhaps sipping a drink or two. As a bonus, it is usually held in a location where the danger of a snowstorm spoiling the fun is very low. Small business owners get a piece of the pie from dozens of events that are staged each year during Super Bowl week as well as in the months leading up to it. It’s all pretty entrepreneurial. Even a Motel 6 in the host city probably has a couple of great weeks.
Though my football libido is less than average, I am a fan of some of the legendary coaches and players because they embody success lessons that all business owners can learn from. The late Vince Lombardi, who coached the Green Bay Packers to win the first ever Super Bowl, may be the most quoted football coach ever. A copy of the book, “Motivation Lombardi Style,” is on my office bookshelf with plenty of marker tabs signifying favorite pages. From 1959 to 1967, every season was a winning season for Coach Lombardi’s teams. Now the winning Super Bowl team receives a championship trophy named after Lombardi. My favorite quote from him is: “The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather in a lack of will.” Vince Lombardi
So when I settle in at a social gathering with an all carbohydrate snack menu while watching Super Bowl 2010, I’ll take inspiration from seeing the best playing the best. It will remind me of the psychic and material rewards of discipline, focus, and determination. The game will remind me that a team of people working together from a common playbook can overcome some pretty intimidating obstacles. One of the fundamental rules for that level of accomplishment is preparation, preparation, and more preparation. When the camera tilts up from the field to the owners box, it is a reminder that there is room at the excellence table for twenty somethings and for senior citizens. At both sidelines there are nervous coaches who know that they have done their best to lead the eleven men on the field. Like true leaders, they realize that greatness comes in shared responsibility. The best earned their place at the table; it wasn’t legislated for them to be there. “Leadership is based on a spiritual quality; the power to inspire, the power to inspire others to follow.” Vince Lombardi
As the New Orleans Saints take the field in Miami against the Indianapolis Colts, you don’t have to really care which fine team wins. The same spirit of enterprise and indomitable will that has built and sustained our country is what you’ll see in the game and hopefully find uplifting. I like what Jim Mora, former coach of the New Orleans Saints, had to say about the Colt’s quarterback Peyton Manning. "What sets him apart is his preparation. That's it in a word: preparation. He prepares himself mentally, physically and emotionally to be the best that he can be. Now, everybody wants to be the best. But Peyton does what it takes to be the best. There's a difference."
May we all allow ourselves to aspire to really being the best. That is my super bowl.
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